Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Game of Kings (and old folks)

I learned to play chess somewhere in junior high or high school - I'm not sure exactly how. Maybe it was my somewhat intellectual (aka nerdy) group of friends, or a late 80s computer game on 5 1/4" floppy disk. I'd like to say I wasn't on the high school chess team because I wasn't that nerdy, but really my high school was too small and we didn't even have a chess team. I'm scared to think of what side of the fence I would have landed on if they did.

Even as a missionary, chess was a hobby. The night that transfer calls were made by our mission president each month, my companion and I would play chess through the night after returning home from proselytizing. It was a perfect way to pass the time and get our minds focused on something besides whether one of us was going to get transferred.

It had been a while since I've played chess, but that changed a few days before Christmas. A few couples from our church congregation got together and made a number of fleece blankets to deliver to residents at a local care center. As we walked into one of the rooms, my eyes were first drawn to the old school computer with a three color 2D chess game on the screen. I then noticed a custom-made velcro chess board, complete with a number/letter coordinate grid. I was intrigued. The resident (Marlo) could not speak very well and had limited motor skills. We talked to him for a while and gave him his blanket. As we got ready to head to the next room, Marlo asked if I wanted to play a game of chess. At first, I declined, knowing that there were other residents to visit. But my wife kindly suggested that I stick around and play while the rest of the group went to deliver the remaining blankets.

As I sat down to play, I had a few thoughts running through my mind: 1) Are we even going to have time to play a game before everyone returns? 2) How good can this guy be with his limited capacities? 3) He does have a computer game and chess board, with pretty much nothing else to do, so maybe he'll be alright. But when I saw a large book on chess strategy lying on his floor, I got an inkling that I might be in over my head.

It took us a while to get the game going, especially since I had to learn that Marlo did not move his own pieces. What he would do is name the coordinates (i.e. "A5 to C7") and I would move his piece for him. I finally caught on to this and moved his first piece to begin the game. Then followed my move. Then his. Then mine. Then his. Checkmate.

What? Really? I surveyed the board and looked at everything that had occurred in the short space of about 90 seconds and five moves. He was right. I had been put in checkmate in less time than it takes me to brush my teeth (if I brush for the full two minutes recommended on the Oral-B Sonicare - which I usually don't). All the thoughts I had had moments before had been answered definitively and Marlo just smiled the kind of smile that made me wish he could tell me exactly what was going on in his mind at that moment. We played again and I put up much more of a fight in another losing effort. But at least I felt better about that game.

As we left the care center, I couldn't help but smile at the defeat. I may return for a rematch with Marlo soon, but I really need to brush up on my chess skills first. I hope Marlo enjoyed our games - I know I did.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

"All I Fear"

I guess I will follow suit with my own list of 20 things I would do if I had no fear:

1. Pursue a music career full-time
2. Dive into the pool head-first
3. Do a backflip on the trampoline (I guess my wife and I both have that fear)
4. Give plasma (I'm okay with giving blood though)
5. Buy a house
6. Actually invest time in school so I can get good enough grades to get into a top-tier PhD program (in case I decided to go that route)
7. Run for political office
8. Snowboard more often (I'm too comfortable on skis)
9. Invest in the stock market
10. Actually release my "Racing & Retracing" CD
11. Delve more into my scripture study
12. Quit my job
13. Take a dance class with my wife
14. Get in shape
15. Befriend our neighbors
16. Finish the children's book I once started writing
17. Ask my wife and/or father-in-law to teach me to weld
18. Race a motorcycle
19. Leave my door unlocked
20. Live without insurance

So there you have it, folks. My innermost fears exposed. Enjoy. Feel free to post your own list(s).

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The First Presidency Christmas Devotional

As Deidra mentioned in one of her prior posts, we had the opportunity of attending the First Presidency Christmas devotional. One of our friends sent us a few pictures from that night, so I thought I might as well post them here. We had a good, ol' fun time.


That was the amount offered for my online soul . . . and I turned it down. Thanks for your comments!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I haven't had enough of these kind of days lately . . .

Since transferring jobs, things have been pretty crazy and I have not had much time to breathe at work. Today is finally a slow day and my boss is gone, so it is much more relaxed and I actually have time for a short little blog. Plus, it is the last day of work for me this week, so I have very little motivation.

But once Thanksgiving is over, it is going to be crazy until Christmas - with school assignments, tests, work, etc. So I figured I'd give you at least a couple of paragraphs to read to tide you over for a while.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

How much for my online soul?

In an update from a previous post, I wanted first to let everyone know that I was successful in regaining possession my original website ( for about $30. A couple of weeks have gone by since that transaction was completed, but I have yet to re-upload everything onto the site. Well, this week, I received an email from another Chris Hartwell who was interested in purchasing the website from me in order to use it for some sort of personal financial blog. Upon further communication, I got a tenative offer, but am not sure I want to sell. I don't want to tell you yet what I was offered - but I want your collective professional opinions. If you were in my position, for what price would you be willing to sell the website? Maybe after getting some responses, I will tell you what I was offered, but I want to hear what you all think first.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Birthday Party that Rocked!

It may have happened three weeks ago, but everybody knows I am a blogging slacker, so I am just telling everyone about it now. Deidra threw me an uber-excellent birthday party . . . and I have pictures to prove it!

It all started with the arrival of some special birthday guests - Karisa, Hudson, and Dalanie. Rumor has it that Hudson even chose coming to visit us over going to get ice cream. Perhaps he could sense all the refreshments that were going to be available to him at the party.

It was my big 30th birthday, so we had to go all out. This included chips, vegetables, lil smokies, and soft pretzel bites - all of which could be dipped into the nacho cheese "fountain of youth." As you can see, at the beginning some of the guests (Karisa and Tameka in this picture) weren't quite sure what to think about it. But it was a big success once people got used to it.

Not only that, but Deidra baked an awesome yellow cake with chocolate butter creme frosting AND an amazing pecan pie - both which were served with ice cream. Check out the awesome candles!

There was much Wii playing to entertain all the guests. Deidra and I had even created little Miis (virtual players on the Wii) for each of the guests who had RSVPed.

Finally, there was opening of presents. This particular ensemble was courtesy of the Mills.

We have such great friends and the party was a ton of fun People were still playing the Wii until the "wii" hours of the morning (man, I'm funny!). Thanks to the Newmans, who let us crash in on the social center at the apartment complex they manage. I am grateful that Deidra went through such great lengths to make an unforgettable party for a huge birthday that could have been dreadful otherwise. I mean, who ever wants to turn 30?

Everyone is invited to come play the Wii anytime. We've had a ton of fun with it since we got it. It was totally worth being my anniversary, birthday, and Christmas present all rolled into one.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

I'm NOT 30!

I just had to express that today while I still can.

The death (and rebirth?) of

This week, I tried to access and it would not come up. I contacted the company I purchased it from to find out what had happened. Come to find out, my registration for had expired back in August. The company had attempted to contact me, but had an old email address that I hardly ever check anymore. After the registration expired, was purchased by another company, so I was unable to obtain it! Talk about frustrating. So instead, I purchased

I later went online and found contact information for the company that purchased I assumed that their company did business by buying domain names that expire in hopes of charging large amounts for the previous owners to buy them back. Upon contacting the company, they were very cordial. They apologized for purchasing the site when I was still interested in it. They wouldn't tell me any specifics, but said that their company bought websites that had expired for research purposes. They offered to sell me back the website if I would simply cover the costs they had spent in purchasing the site.

So hopefully on Monday, I will be able to get back in my possession. Until then, everything has been uploaded to Maybe someday, I'll even update the website. Who knows?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

While the cat's away the mice will procrastinate

Deidra left on Thursday morning to go to DC and visit some friends and old co-workers in DC. Of course, I unfortunately have to stay and go to work, since our trips to Seattle left me with only a few vacation days left at work. I have been trying to read the last 200 pages of The World is Flat for class and write an analysis of it while she has been gone. So far, I have about half a page written with quite a bit left to do. I can't get myself to focus. Instead I spend time surfing the net, checking fantasy football, reading Sports Illustrated, reading blogs (everything I have missed since i last read blogs about two weeks ago), and now I'm even BLOGGING! Can you believe it? But it's due by Wednesday, so I will be forced to buckle down some day soon.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

An update . . . of sorts

This update goes out to Daisy Paige, the one fan who requested an update. Congratulations on the pregnancy! You and Josh will be great parents.

Other comments I have neglected to leave on people's blogs:

1) To Karisa - Happy birthday, happy "birthing" day (I can't wait to meet Dalanie), and happy birthday to Brent, too. Sounds like a lot of summer birthdays around your house.

2) To Bestsariah - Nice haircut

3) To Kamilah - Your husband screamed on the roller coaster. That's kind of funny ... but not too funny, because I'm pretty sure he could beat me up.

Updates that I have missed:

1) My summer classes are over and I passed all three classes.

2) Now I get to start the graduate program fo' real in a couple of weeks.

3) My best friend from high school is getting married and I get to be a groomsman . . . unfortunately, it is in Seattle, so I have to miss work and school in order to do so.

4) Work is uber-crazy and I'm not sure I really like it. But I've only been doing it for a couple of months. It's definitely made me miss the lazy summer days of working with the education side of things.

5) Our trip to Mesquite was all sorts of fun. Deidra and I won at tennis, but I lost in golf pretty soundly. I also lost at the waterslide luge, the holding your breath underwater for a long time competition, and at Settlers. We went with three other couples and had a great time. The Suburban was perfect transportation to fit us all in.

6) (This is pre-emptive news, since who knows when I'll blog again) My lovely, wonderful, spectacular, beautiful, brilliant, caring, and incredible wife and I will celebrate our second anniversary on Saturday. Hopefully her husband figures out something cool to do.

7) My lil sil is currently living with us until school starts. She's a pretty cool cat ... though sometimes a little strange. She was about 500% excited to show off her Fat Baby boots at the Cassia County Fair this weekend. She even took a day off work for it so she could head to Burley tonight.

8) And finally, I'm sorry to disappoint those who were hoping for a repeat performance as I defended my second place ribbon at the Cache County Fair. While I did sign up to participate again this year, we totally spaced it and missed the fair completely. Oh well!

I hope that's enough to keep you all entertained for another little while. I am also getting rid of the junk pile and the lyric of the week/month, since I do not update either of those enough to make it worth it. But I will try to be a little bit better about posting . . . maybe.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Are you ready for some football?

It's that time of year again. I want to extend a personal invitation to everyone out there (and that includes you Scott Cromie) to join my fantasy football league. Just click on the picture above and enter the following information:

League ID: 29580

Password: roxor

Let the games begin!

Wanna sell coffee on the Sabbath?

That's basically the question I posed to a recently-returned missionary today at work. He came in looking for a job, and I was trying to fill a job for Saturday and Sunday grinding, brewing, and giving out samples of coffee to customers at Sam's Club.

He's going to do it.

Should I feel bad?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A pretty good surprise

At around 11:45, with about 15 minutes left in class this morning, I got a text message from my wife that read:

"Do you think you'll be wrapping up at noon?"

I replied that it looked like we were nearing the end for the day. Her text response was:

"I hope so, too! There's a pretty good surprise waiting for you!"

I'm a sucker for surprises, so as soon as class got finished (11:54 - six minutes early), I ran home down the hill and arrived shortly after noon. I must have been too fast, because when I opened the door, I was told to go back outside because the surprise wasn't ready.

A moment later, I was called back in and found this on my plate at the candlelit table:

It was definitely a pretty good surprise. Does it get any better than a summer lunch like that? The wraps were pretty amazingly tasty, pasta salad is always a Chris favorite, and the lemon-poppyseed cupcakes glazed with some sort of lemon-sugary goodness were irresistable. My wife is pretty much awesome.

Oh, and Happy 25th Birthday Diet Coke! Thanks for being a part of such a great surprise.

(P.S. I think it's kind of weird that I am older than Diet Coke.)

Sunday, July 08, 2007

A Super Mario Christmas Story

What you get when you mix one of Nintendo's greatest video games with one of the best movies ever made? Pure genius ...

Sunday, July 01, 2007

I've been taggified!

Four Jobs I’ve held:
1. Farm hand/cow milker
2. GWU Board of Chaplains student assistant
3. Senator Larry Craig's Intern Coodinator
4. Branch Manager

Movies I can watch over and over:
1. Back to the Future
2. Life is Beautiful
3. Napolean Dynamite
4. Gattica

Places I’ve lived:
1. Declo, ID
2. Washington, DC
3. Cincinnati, OH
4. Logan, UT

T.V. Shows I enjoy:
1. Seinfeld/Bernie Mac/Malcolm in the MIddle/Drew Carey/all other old sitcoms that are re-ran all the time.
2. The Office
3. Jeopardy
4. The Simpsons

Places I have been on vacations to:
1. Glacier National Park
2. Boston, MA
3. The Czech Republic
4. Spain (Madrid, Zaragoza, & Barcelona)

Favorite foods:
1. Quesdillas
2. Steak & Potatoes
3. Smothered Grilled Chicken
4. Spaghetti & Hot Dogs, seasoned with a generous amount of Frank's Red Hot (my official bachelor meal - I can only eat it now when Deidra is out of town)

Websites I visit:
1. You Tube
2. MSN Games
3. Yahoo! Fantasy Football(more info on the 2007-2008 season to come)
4. Chris Hartwell Dot Com

Places I’d rather be right now:
1. Washington, DC
2. Hawaii
3. Mesquite, NV (adventure to Mesquite is forthcoming, so be ready!)
4. Your mom's house

Consider yourself tagged (because you're probably the only four people that might read my blog that haven't already been tagged [that I know of])
1. Chod (In order to get out of the junk pile)
2. Kamilah
3. Sarah
4. Robin

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Family, the Zoo, and IKEA.

I know it's been a long while since my last post, but an eventful midweek-weekend has made it requisite to do so now.

It all started on Wednesday, when Deidra came and picked me up from work. We made it over to the church for our church's blood drive. I like giving blood, but mainly for the treats. They hooks us up pretty well with Oreos, pretzels, trail mix, peanut butter/cheese crackes, Fig Newtons, and some great flavors of Welch's juice. It could almost take the place of dinner - but not quite.

After giving blood, we headed to Ogden, where my dad's side of the family was having a get-together. Deidra finally met my Uncle Larry, only 22 months into our marriage. I think that was the last family member on either side of either family that had not been met by the spouse. So we can check that off of our list. A lot of my cousins and their kids were also there. It was fun to see everyone and talk for a while. My parents were there with their two-year-old granddaughter (our niece), Stevie, who they are watching for a few days.

We then head just down the road to Riverdale, where we stayed the night (with my parents and Stevie) at the old Red Roof Inn, which apparently used to be a Motel 6 and recently was changed back to a Motel 6 - go figure.

The next morning (I had taken the day off from work), we got up, had breakfast at IHOP, dropped my piano keyboard off in Bountiful to get fixed, and then went to the Hogle Zoo.

Stevie enjoyed seeing the elephants, monkeys, alligators, snakes, camels, rhinos, and giraffes. But her favorite was this little bird that came right up to her (behind a glass enclosure). She tried tapping on the glass to touch it, and finally stared kissing the bird through the glass. It was pretty funny, and maybe a little bit disgusting. Who knows what else has touched that glass.

We left the zoo a little bit before noon and convinced my parents that we should go have lunch and shop at IKEA.

We got there right as the lunch hour was in full swing, and Deidra and I enjoyed a red pepper & mozzarella sandwich and chicken Caesar salad. My parents got Stevie some macaroni and cheese, but she spent most of the meal stealing lettuce from my dad's salad and nibbling on it like a cute little bunny rabbit.

Once lunch was over we started shopping, but my parents didn't last long. We said our goodbyes and they headed home while we continued meandering through IKEA. We came away with four new chairs for our dining room. First, we got two of these chairs:

And then we got two of these folding chairs (also in white, but they didn't have that color on their website pictures) that we can pull out when we have company over:

We also got some little stuff - a jar to fill with candy in my office, an apron that Deid fell in love with, and a shaker that we're going to fill up with powdered sugar.

I had originally suggested also making a stop at NPS, but after IKEA, we didn't have any desire to spend any more money. So we traveled home and put our new furniture together, and now here we are.

So maybe it's not a gut-wrenching story that tugs at your heart strings, or one that makes you laugh so hard you cry, but at least I finally blogged - so you better appreciate it.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Happy Birthday, WEP!

I even took you out of the junk pile finally.

May your year be full of Sta-Ta-Grade and punch-out pincap visions. And may your wildest dreams come true.

Sunday, June 03, 2007 just rocked my world

Deidra and I have been looking forward to a trip to Los Angeles we had planned for this week. We were to leave on Wednesday and come back the following Tuesday, and had purchased plane tickets from Jet Blue and both a hotel room and a rental car from Expedia.

Today, we found out that Deidra's Grandfather Parish just passed away and his funeral is set for Saturday - right smack-dab in the middle of our vacation. So Deidra and I sat discussing our options: a) to try cancelling our vacation, b) to attempt to reschedule all of our reservations, or c) to go on vacation and miss the funeral.

We decided that option A would be our first choice, if it were possible without getting burned to badly with cancellation fees from JetBlue and Expedia. If it cost to much to cancel, we decided we would look at option B . . . and possibly option C, if both options A and B were too costly.

I first called 1-800-Expedia to look into cancelling our hotel and rental car reservations. After a very short time of talking to the automated system (giving it our itinerary number and telling it that I wanted to "cancel itinerary"), I was immediately forwarded to a live operator, without even having to hold at all. That's right - no elevator music interspersed with that annoying recording that says: "all of our operators are currently busy - please continue to hold." Score one for Expedia! The lady I talked to was very understanding and expressed her condolences in a fairly heavy foreign accent. I was told that there is normally a $50 cancellation fee ($25 for the hotel and $25 for the car rental), but that she would gladly waive those fees because of the situation. Wait - did I just here correctly? I am being refunded the entire amount of the purchase without any cancellation fee? I would have been content to pay the $50 and get the rest of the money refunded. Score another one for Expedia! Needless to say, I was very impressed with them and will certainly use them again in the future.

Deidra next contacted JetBlue (since she had paid for the flights with her credit card and under her name). She had read in the original itinerary email that there was a $30 cancellation fee per ticket to cancel via phone and $25 per ticket to cancel via the internet. But after my success in getting fees waived, she thought she would try using the phone to explain the situation and hopefully get those fees waived as well. No such luck. After waiting on hold for a few minutes, she ended up cancelling our flights with a $60 penalty ($30 per ticket) - and the rest of the money we paid for the tickets is being refunded as "JetBlue Dollars" that can only be redeemed through JetBlue. We were content with that, but definitely not as impressed with their services as we were with Expedia's.

But, all-in-all, we are glad that we were able to get everything cancelled and make it home for the funeral. Deidra was not particularly close to her Grandfather Parish (and I had only met him a couple of times), but we wanted to be there particularly to support Deidra's dad. Family is one of the greatest blessings that we have in this life. Both Deidra's parents and my parents have been there innumerable times throughout our lives (both before and after our marriage) and we are grateful that we are able to support them and show a small token of our appreciation for them through these kinds of situations.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Happy, Happy Birthday, Deidra Dear

Happy days will come to you all year
If I had one wish, then it would be
A happy, happy birthday to you from me!

The official Golden Birthday is here - 22 on the 22nd! Deidra already knows what she's getting for her birthday, but unfortunately it will not be delivered in time for her to take advantage of it on her birthday. In the next couple of weeks, we'll have to post about it and get some pictures when it actually arrives. Stay tuned!

I just wanted to say Happy Birthday to the love of my life!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

My Centennial Blog Post

This is officially blog post #100 on this blog. It took just under a year to achieve (slower than some, faster than others). I don't have much more to say about it, but if any of the Parish clan need an excuse to lick their dessert dishes today, I give you permission to invoke celebration for my 100th post.

The Golden State Meltdown

Watching the Utah vs. Golden State game last night was exhilarating, frustrating, confusing, awesome, tiring, and ultimately a satisfying experience. Particularly satisfying was watching Golden State getting frustrated in the fourth quarter, resulting in one flagrant foul and two technical fouls. Baron Davis has worked his way up the ladder of people who get under my skin. I was glad the Jazz pulled off the win in the end, because I don't think I could watch another game against such a dirty, whiny, flopping, conceited, obnoxious team. I'm sure they'll have plenty of excuses about how the whole team had the flu, how Davis was still not 100% on his hamstring, how they really didn't deserve the flagrant and technical fouls, etc. But the simple fact is - they lost and Utah won. now I just hope that the Phoenix Suns can win their series. After seeing how dirty San Antonio can play, I'm not sure I'm ready for another series against that kind of team.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


So why are the months of my blog archives (on the left-hand side of the screen) all of a sudden in Portuguese? Or am I just going crazy and it's normal for everyone else who views it?

(P.S. As soon as I posted this post, it was magically back to English. Maybe I am going crazy.)

Mom for an hour

What better way to celebrate Mother's Day then by being a mother for an hour? That's what Deidra got to do today in church. A couple that I had asked to speak in church today has a 9-month-old baby girl (Abigail) that they asked Deidra to watch while they spoke. It was fun to watch Deidra trying to find ways to entertain her for an hour during sacrament meeting. At times, Abigail would be laughing, then crying the next minute, and there was a point where she almost fell off the bench. But all-in-all, Deidra did a great job and will definitely make a great mother herself one day. Though this one-hour stint of trying to entertain someone else's child may have dissuaded her from becoming a mom anytime soon. :-)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Since when am I a Jazz fan?

Growing up as the second of four boys, one thing that was an important and central part of my childhood was sports. Baseball, basketball, football, skiing, golf, etc. We played baseball in the Redder's back yard so much that there were four large spots of dirt in the lawn from where we had the bases. We even made up our own sports sometimes. There was "Keep it up!" when we were younger, which basically consisted of taking turns hitting a balloon and not letting it touch the ground. Then a little later there was the game in which we laid out about a 10-foot long "goal" at each end of our backyard. Then the two opposing players would stand in front of each goal, using the dried out sunflower stalks from our garden as blocking sticks. Person 1 would throw a frisbee from their goal to Person 2's goal, and Person 2 would try to block the shot with the sunflower stalk stick. Then Person 2 would try to get the frisbee through Person 1's goal, and so on. We would even pretend to have "professional" wrestling matches on the trampoline (if you count WWF as a sport).

While sports was a common part of growing up between my brothers and I, one thing we didn't have much consensus on was our favorite sports teams. Living in Idaho, there was never really a hometown team to root for. So we ended up picking our own favorite teams. Baseball was the only sport in which there was consensus - the Atlanta Braves. This was probably because a) their games were (and still are) always played on TBS, and b) we all loved Dale Murphy - who was a good Mormon role model for little Mormon boys. I still have a soft spot in my heart for the Braves, even though I feel obligated to claim the Washington Nationals as my new favorite team, since I attended a number of Nationals games during their inaugural season when I was in DC.

As for football, Ryan chose the Chicago Bears, Jeremy took the Miami Dolphins, and Stephen went for the Cincinnati Bengals. As for me, I never made up my mind. I simply picked a new favorite team at random each year - the Denver Broncos, the San Fransisco 49ers, the Green Bay Packers, and the New York Jets each took their turn. These days, I'm pretty much the same, though if I were pressed to claim a favorite, I would probably go with the New England Patriots. (Not even numerous years in DC could turn me into a Redskins fan!)

And then there is basketball. Ryan and Stephen teamed up to root for the Chicago Bulls (and who could blame them - it was back in the peak Michael Jordan years), Jeremy claimed the Utah Jazz (with Karl Malone and John Stockton), and I picked the L.A. Lakers (anchored by Magic Johnson).

Since my youth, I have continued to be a casual L.A. Laker fan and enjoyed the successful multi-year championship run they have completed in recent years. But this year, Deidra and I have watched numerous Utah Jazz playoff games - usually with a few other couples in our ward. I have to admit that I have taken a liking to the Jazz and their run so far in the playoffs. Especially after last night's game, which was full of all sorts of excitement, suspense, and drama. I was particularly impressed with Derek Fisher, as he arrived at the game in the middle of the third quarter after his daughter underwent surgery in New York earlier that morning. He came in during the 4th quarter and overtime to give the Jazz exactly the lift they needed to win the game. And his composure and remarks to the press after the game about how his family and faith always come first were a poignant reminder to me that there are some down-to-earth athletes out there.

So I guess I'm jumping on the bandwagon in support of the Jazz . . . at least for now. I'm not ready to make a long-term commitment quite yet.

Let's get this garden started!

We finally got most of our garden planted last night, after weeks of schedule conflicts, inclement weather, and a lack of water at our garden plot site. Let the growing commence!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Snap Attack and Free Gas!

Sometimes I really like my job - like yesterday. There was an email sent out in the morning from our corporate office. Part of the message encouraged us to play a new online game sponsored by Kelly Services called Snap Attack. At the bottom of the email, we were told that the first five people to reply to the email with their Snap Attack score would get a $20 gas card. So what did I do? I sat at work playing the game for a few minutes and then replied with my score - and I got $20 in free gas (which is about 1/2 a gallon these days). You've got to love a job that encourages you to play games during work and even rewards you for doing so!

The bike is back!

Last Friday, I started riding my bike to and from work again. It's definitely good to be doing some exercise and hopefully neutralizing the growing gut that my winter hibernation has contributed to.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Counselor Powers - Activate!

Deidra and I both started new callings at church on Sunday. Deidra is the 1st Counselor in the Primary Presidency. In our young married student ward, our Primary only consists of a nursery. So she gets to go to play with the nursery kids each Sunday. I think she enjoys it, but she misses being able to bond with the other sisters in the ward because she's not in Relief Society.

As for me, I am now the 1st Counselor in our bishopric. Sunday is now kind of a blur, and I am a little overwhelmed with the responsibilities and time commitment involved with the calling. But I am certainly looking forward to working with our new Bishop and the other counselor. And I am excited to be able to get to know and serve the members of our ward.

(P.S. That picture is really how Deidra and I dress for church. :) JK!)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

A bocci challenge

WEP - think you can handle a bocci challenge that doesn't take place on your home turf? I now have my own bocci set. So next week, when you're in Logan, I challenge you to a game.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Inspiration is lacking

I have wanted to blog recently, but haven't had anything inspire me, so I apologize. Work has been crazy and will be for the next six weeks until school gets out. School will be stressful this week until I finish my last two assignments and two tests, which will be completed by next Tuesday. Other than that, not much of note is happening. I'll keep you posted, though, should anything exciting happen.

P.S. Deidra did bring me a cinnamon-sugar pretzel at work today. That was definitely exciting!

Friday, April 20, 2007

All-Electronic Program, you say?

Dear S. Larsen at Citibank,

I signed up for electronic billing with my Citibank card a while ago. Ever since I did, I get this letter in the mail every month:

It might be hard to see because of the page crease, but the first paragraph reads:
Your Citibank statement is now available at This notification is part of the All-Electronic Program you enrolled in to receive your statements online instead of in the mail.
My question: If it really is an "All-Electronic Program" (I like the capitalization, by the way - it just makes it seem so very official), then why do you keep sending me this letter every month in the mail? I am certainly capable of checking my statement and making electronic payments without this paper notification, especially since I get a notification via email as well. If I wanted something every month in the mail to remind me that I have a Citibank account, I would not have signed up for the "All-Electronic Program" in the first place.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Seeking movie recommendations

Deidra and I have watched a few movies on DVD recently, and have not had much luck finding one that we really enjoy. Maybe we're just hard to please, but it seems like movies justa aren't as good as they used to be. Recently, we have watched Superman Returns, Pirates of the Caribbean 2, and King Kong (actually, I watched King Kong by myself) and we were pretty disappointed in all three of them. In fact, I'm trying to think of a movie that we have watched recently that we did enjoy. We saw The Pursuit of Happyness in the theater (watching a movie in the theater is a rarity for us) and I really liked it, though Deidra thought it was pretty depressing for most of the movie. Other than that, I am hard-pressed to remember a movie we enjoyed recently.

So if anybody has seen a good movie lately and wants to make recommendations, I'd be interested to hear them.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Answering Machine Message

On Saturday, my parents came into town to spend some time with us and to make sure I was doing okay after ol' wisdom teeth had been extracted. We spent part of the day shopping and then went to lunch. They were amazed that I was eating chips and salsa a mere two days after the surgery and that I wasn't swollen. I snuck out of one of the stores where we were shopping and ran next door to Best Buy (where I had a $10 gift card) to buy Peter Pan on DVD for Deidra for Easter. I'm so sneaky - she didn't think she was going to get much of anything for Easter.

After spending time running around with my parents, took a nice nap to recover. Then Deidra and I went back to shopping for a bit in order to find her a cute Easter dress. I had previously purchased a new 3-piece suit, which my mother-in-law had recently hemmed (Thanks Patrice!) - so then we were both ready for church on Easter Sunday.

At some point during our exploits that day, there was a message left on our answering machine. Since our answering machine is located in our spare bedroom, sometimes we don't notice messages for a while. While we were getting ready for bed at 9:30ish (yeah, I know, we're like old people going to bed so early), I notice the message and pressed play, only to hear the following:

"Hello, Brother Hartwell, this is the Stake Executive Secretary. President Seamons [the 2nd counselor in the Stake Presidency] would like to meet with you tomorrow if you are in town. Please call me back when you get this message and we can get that set up."

That message definitely caught me off guard. One of those that gets your head spinning, wondering what it could be about. I returned the call and set up an appointment for the following morning before church. I certainly did not sleep much that night, and Deidra didn't help much when she said: "Don't worry - they probably just want to call you as the Stake Choir Pianist of something." I hadn't even thought of that possibility! I recently was released as our ward choir pianist, which had been one of the most challenging callings I had ever held. So that made me even more nervous.

As I pulled into the stake center parking lot and walked down the hall to the stake offices, my heart was beating and mind was racing. I was welcomed by President Seamons and took a seat in his office. After a few questions about how school, work, and fmaily life were going, he got down to business:

"Brother Hartwell, as you are probably aware, our Stake Conference is coming up in two weeks, and I would like you to speak as part of the Sunday morning general session in the Tabernacle. How do you feel about that?"

I was speechless for a moment as I let it all sink in. First - relief that it wasn't a long-term stake calling. Then - a return of the nervousness as I thought about speaking in front of such a large congregation. Finally, I gathered all my strength, opened my mouth, and replied that I would certainly do my best and would happy to speak.

So now here I am, mulling over my topic of "faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ" and hoping that I will be able to prepare and present something that will be inspiring to those present. It's definitely a humbling feeling, but I know that it will all turn out well if I rely on my faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ, and rely upon His Spirit as I ponder and prepare my message.

Back to the ol' grind

It's been five days since my wisdom teeth were taken out, and I finally had to start back at work this morning. The surgery went well and I woke up this morning feeling better than I have in a while - no more throbbing pain, no need for the ice pack, no need for the ibuprofen or vicaprofen. So now it's back to work as usual. Eight more weeks until the schools are out for the summer and I am counting down right along with the teachers and students (38 days after today!). I'm not sure what I will be doing during the summer months at work (last year, I worked 2 days/week with Kelly Educational and 3 days/week with the commercial Kelly Services branch). What I do know is that I have been accepted into the Management and Human Resources graduate program at USU - starting in the fall - so I will be busy taking my final three prerequisite classes during the summer. I also know of at least three weddings of friends and families that are on our calendar so far. Add to that a a number of musical performances and a possible CD release (though that may not be until later), and it should be a pretty busy little summer! But I am looking forward to the twelve somewhat stress-free weeks at work during that time.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Going under

Tomorrow morning I get all four of my wisdom teeth out. The oral surgeon has assured me that it will be a routine procedure, and that the recovery should be fairly quick (especially since none of them are impacted). Over a month ago, I made the appointment for tomorrow and have not thought much about. But now that it's less than 24 hours away, I'm starting to get a little nervous. I know I really have nothing to worry about, but sometimes that still doesn't keep one from worrying. I have never been "put under" before, so I am a little nervous about what that is going to feel like and then there's always the fear of something going majorly wrong and not waking up (as unfounded as that fear may be). And what about when I do wake up? Am I going to be out of it for a while? Is it going to hurt? Am I going to be able to enjoy any of this 5-day span of not working - including Easter? I know some people who were mostly normal within a day of the opration and other that were down for a long time and had to deal with a number of problems associated with the removal of wisdom teeth (dry sockets, infections, etc). Let's just hope that the procedure and recovery are as painless and quick as I have been told it should be.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Forget global warming . . .

For all of the talk about global warming these days, I think that there is another issue that the government, media, and scientists are overlooking - global staticization. I swear that in the last year or so, I have had so many static electricity shocks. I shock myself (and sometimes others) ALL THE TIME! It's gotten so bad that I have noticed that I start timidly touching things or using my forarms to open doors, just to try to avoid or minimize the shockage. Today I shocked myself when I touched my computer keyboard, and I can still feel the effects. Am I the only one who's experiencing this phenomenon?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Hartwell Curse

My father's alma mater is Weber State University, my mother's is Brigham Young University, and mine is George Washington University. All three teams fell in the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament last week. Could this possibly be related to my fantasy football curse? The jury is still deliberating.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The GWopoly Queen!

To celebrate George Washington University's berth in the NCAA tournament, I convinced Deidra that we needed to play GWopoly (the GWU version of Monopoly) tonight for family home evening - even though she hates Monopoly. She was very gracious and agreed. We played the short version (where you deal out the properties insteading of having to land on them to buy them) made even shorter by wheeling and dealing so that we could have matches. But it soon became apparent that I was in trouble when Deidra side-stepped all of my properties, though I went down fighting and tried to last as long as I could. But, basically, I got massacred. All hail Deidra - the GWopoly Queen!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

I want my baby back, baby back, baby back

So, Deidra made these awesome ribs for dinner tonight. We got boneless country-style pork ribs yesterday at the store (they were a steal on sale) and we decided last night that we would make some ribs for dinner when we got home from church today. Unfortunately, we didn't have any barbeque sauce, and I neither of us wanted to go back to the store last night. But Deidra pulled out her trusty cooking bible (aka "The Joy of Cooking") and we found a recipe we thought would be good for making barbeque sauce, which included garlic, freash ginger, and worcestershire sauce. We had the fresh garlic and ginger, but no worcestershire sauce - so we decided on using A1 sauce instead (to which I was more than agreeable). As Deidra said, I don't know if it was the four hours after church that we had to wait while they cooked, or if they really were that good, but I just wanted to eat the whole panful (and probably would have, if Deidra hadn't stopped me).

Not only that, but Deidra made homemade cole slaw and I whipped together some pink lemonade (it was hard work stirring the crystal light into the water). All-in-all, it was a great meal that made me anxious for summer.

And I'm definitely looking forward to lunch tomorrow!

March Madness? How about March MAYHEM?!

Ok, so I know I invited you to join my March Madness league on Yahoo! Sports (and that's still on, by the way), but I remembered how much more I like the brackets at CBS Sportsline. With Yahoo!, you get a set number of points per correct pick (1 pt in the first round, 2 pts in the second, etc.), but with CBS Sportsline, you get those set number of points multiplied by the ranking (seed) of your correct pick. That way you score more points for correctly prediciting upsets. Not only that, but each person can have two brackets. So, if you want to join the MAYHEM, clik on the link below and enter the password "roxor":

OOH! OOH! Click me! Click me!

(password: roxor)

P.S. If you think I get a little too excited about March Madness - you might be on to something.

P.P.S. The link above has now been fixed.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Blessing in disguise

I was scheduled to take my second statistics exam yesterday at 3:30pm, until I found out on Tuesday that I had to attend a training in Salt Lake for work. It was scheduled to finish at 2pm. I figured I would get a little bit of extra study time in by changing my test-taking time to 5:30pm (the good part about online classes - you can reschedule your tests) - so I did. When I got back from my training in SLC at 3:00, I immediately set about studying for my test. But I just never felt comfortable with the concepts and didn't really feel like I was going to do well. As the time approached to take the test, I reluctantly left home and drove up to campus.

Upon entering the test-taking center, the proctor could not locate my exam. I waited for about ten minutes while he left the room in search of it. He came back with a test he located and I sat down to begin to take it. It didn't take me long to figure out it wasn't the right test, because a) it looks completely different from the practice tests we had been given, b) the formulas didn't all look familiar, and c) I was allotted two hours to take the test, when I know that the test I was supposed to take was only supposed to be 75 minutes.

I told the proctor my dilemma and he said there wasn't much else he could do, because the main office was closed. He suggested that I reschedule to take my test another day. Since Thursday and Friday were the only days that the test was offered, I reluctantly agreed to reschedule for Friday - knowing I would have to get out of work early in order to make it to the testing center before it closed.

I printed off copies of the practice tests and sent an email both to my professor and to the testing center to let them know what had happened, and to ensure that the correct test would be available for me when I came back in to take it. I was feeling very frustrated and stressed out about the whole ordeal. I returned home and told Deidra. She soon left for enrichment, and I started making myself dinner. While I was making dinner, I decided that I better keep studying. I began doing the first practice test and continued doing it while I was eating dinner. I still wasn't quite grasping on to the concepts and wasn't doing too well. Then, all of a sudden, after examining the answers I had gotten wrong, it all clicked and I understood exactly how to do the problems and the concepts behind them.

No sooner had I had this personal statistical epiphany than the phone rang. I answered it, and it was the proctor I had spoken to earlier. He explained that he had finally been able to locate my test and that I could go up to campus and take the exam right then if I wanted to. I told him I would be there in fifteen minutes and hung up the phone. Right after I hung up the phone, I realized that Deidra had our car at the church and I had no way of getting to campus (she, of course, had left her cell phone home). After making a few calls to our neighbors, I finally found one that was home and had a car available to drive me to campus. So I finally got in and was able to take my test.

Afterward, I came out of the test feeling a lot better about how I did than I had anticipated. I realized that had I taken the test when I was scheduled to, I would not have done very well at all. I am grateful that I had a roadblock in taking the test that allowed me the time to really figure out the concepts I was supposed to be learning. I definitely learned that sometimes what we see as obstacles or trials can really be blessings in disguise - but we may not realize it until later.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

March Madness quickly approaches!

It's time to sign up for my Yahoo! March Madness league for the upcoming NCAA tournament. Click on the link below to access the site:


league ID: 25423

password: roxor

Good luck!


Dwight Howard had some amazing dunks in the first round of the Slam Dunk competition. Too bad we didn't get to see what he would have done in the second round.

He hits his head on the RIM! That's craziness!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Fil, Sil, and Pasil

This Saturday, Deidra received a call on her cell phone. It was her little sister inviting me to join them for the Utah Jazz game that night in Salt Lake. Yeah, that's right, only I got invited to the game. (I believe Tameka's response to Deidra questioning whether she could go too was, "NO! You're not invited! Does your husband want to go to the game?!") But don't worry - I don't think Deidra minded. She got to go shopping with her mom while I was at the game.

So Fil (Father-in-law) Warren, Sil (Sister-in-law) Tameka, and Pasil (Practically-a-sister-in-law) Chelsey, and I attended the Utah Jazz game versus the Boston Celtics (whom they beat handily). We were in the front row of the second tier, and Tameka was awe-struck by the lights on the electronic advertising board over the railing in front of us. I'm just glad she didn't fall over the edge while she was hanging over the railing to watch them. And I think Tameka and Chelsey found new Italian gymnasty boyfriends wearing skin-tight, flesh-colored unitards with bright-colored, flailing-ribbon, and faces painted white. Watch out Braden! Too bad Warren had one foot in the grave with the whooping-black-lung-bird-flu-plague disease, or he might have enjoyed the game a little bit more.

Thanks for a fun time.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Awarding entertainment or liberalism?

Between Al Gore's mock presidential announcement, Happy Feet's win as best animated feautre (a movie that lost all semblance of entertainment through its preachy message on how the humans are killing of the animals), listening to Melissa Etheridge sing her song from "An Inconvenient Truth," and rolling my eyes on the self-satisfying spiel on how green Hollywood is, I started wondering if I was watching the Democratic National Convention, a Greenpeace demonstration, or if it was in fact the Oscars. (And that was only after watching about fifteen minutes.) Come on Hollywood, get off your high horse! How green do you think the Oscars really can be? We're talking about Hollywood here. These are the same actors that wear clothes once before throwing them out and drive Hummers, limos, and SUVS, the directors and producers who blow up entire buildings just to get the right shot, and did you see all the bling bling going on at the awards show? Please tell me that none of those diamonds are "Blood Diamonds." Buying organic tofu and using recycled paper for your scripts doesn't quite balance out the waste of having three empty mansions, twelve different vehicles, and fifty pairs of high heels. Nice try, but you're not fooling anybody. Though I guess it's your business to act like you're making a difference, so I can't blame you for trying.

P.S. Of course "An Inconvenient Truth" won for best documentary and Melissa Etheridge's song from the movie also won. What a surprise!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

How to successfully annoy your waitress at the Olive Garden

The secret is to be as frugal as possible on a busy Friday night where every moment you are at the table, the waitress knows she's missing out on the big spenders that could be in your place. Just follow these simple steps like we did last night:
1. When she asks what you would like to drink, answer "Just water will be fine."
2. Split an entree with your wife.
3. Load up on free salad and breadsticks before receiving your entree.
4. Ask for more salad and breadsticks after eating your entree.
5. Ask for a box for the unfinished potion of your split entree.
6. Don't get anything for dessert. (In our case, the server was so annoyed by that point that she didn't even ask us if we wanted dessert. She just brought us our check and clear our plates without saying much of anything or even really looking at us, hoping to get us out of there as quickly as she could.)

Yeah, our waitress was getting visibly P.O.ed last night throughout the ordeal, but we did order an appetizer and tip her quite well, so she's really got nothing to complain about. I mean, when you work at a restaurant where they offer free salad and breadsticks and the entree portions are huge, what do you expect? (Especially in cheap Mormon country.)

The girl in the picture is not our waitress. Our waitress wasn't very good at serving us. She only came to our table a few times, and was visibly annoyed with any request we made.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Monkeying with History

After our snowshoeing adventure on Monday, I was flipping through channels on the TV when I came across the old-school version of Planet of the Apes. This would be pretty normal if it was on TBS or AMC or something like that, but it was being shown on the History Channel. Yeah, you read that right - the HISTORY channel. Doesn't that seem a little odd to anyone else?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

White and Nerdy

Dang, I'm smart . . . Bestsariah's got nothin' on me!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Birthday, Nelly!

I don't know if you would really consider it a birthday, per se - but Nelly is sitting outside my office right now with exactly 50,000 miles. She's been a great car ever since I bought her ... except for her reluctance to start whenever she has sat at the in-laws' house for a couple of days. Here's to 50,000 more miles!!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I didn't know scheduling Home Teaching was such an ordeal

Conversation I just listened to over the phone when calling to set up visiting teaching:

Me: Hi, this is your home teacher. I was wondering when would be a good time to come home teaching this month.

Mrs. X (to husband): Honey, when are we available for home teaching this week?

Mr. X (to wife): Um ... I don't know. Probably Wednesday or Thursday would be best.

Mrs. X (to husband - visibly annoyed): Well, I would say Wednesday is out ... since that's Valentine's Day.

Mr. X (to wife - sheepishly): Oh yeah. I forgot.

Mrs. X (to husband): How about Tuesday?

Mr. X (to wife): That sounds good. What time?

Mrs. X (to husband): Well, do you want to have dinner before they come visit or wait until after?

Mr. X (to wife): Well, what are we having for dinner?

Mrs. X (to husband - again annoyed): I don't know!

Mr. X (to wife): Oh wait, I have something on Tuesday. I can't do that day. How about Thursday at 8?

Mrs. X (to me): How does Thursday at 8 sound?

Me: Sounds good. We'll see you then.

Maybe it was a "had-to-be-there" but I was struggling not to laugh out loud over the phone.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I don't wanna grow up . . .

Every time the new year comes around and brings hope for a brighter future, the bills come in and suffocate that hope. :) Last year, right after the New Year, we had to get a set of new tires for our car - an expense that we had to have faith that we would even be able to pay (though we did get free beef from Les Schwab tires for our troubles). This year, Deidra and I were talking about all the ideas we had for our tax returns when they arrive. And then the bills came rolling in: new rear brakes for the car, registration/safety inspection fees, paying for books and classes for the both of us, getting my keyboard repaired, learning that I am going to have to get my wisdom teeth out, and Deidra's visit to the ER in December that we found out wasn't going to be paid for by insurance. Now I just hope we break even.

I don't like this whole being grown-up and responsible thing. It's highly overrated.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

What day is it today? . . .

I wouldn't know, because I don't have a calendar.

My phone conversation with "the wife" this morning:

Me: Will you please bring that classic car calendar that I got from Wilson Motors to my office when you come to pick me up?

The Wife: Um . . . no.

Me: Why not?

The Wife: Because it went out in the recycling a few weeks ago.

Me: What?!? Why did you do that?

The Wife: Because you weren't using it and it was just sitting around.

Me: I was planning on bringing to work because the calendar I have hanging up here ended with January.

The Wife: Well, I'm sorry, but it was bugging me.

So, moral of the story is - Deidra threw away my calendar without even asking and she doesn't see anything wrong with that. Am I wrong in being a little bit bugged? I welcome your comments (and I dare say that Deidra will be first to respond with her side of the story :-) ).

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Maybe God reads my blog

For those of you who read my list of 100 things about me in my previous post, perhaps you recall #4 about how being the choir pianist was the most challenging church calling I have ever had. Well, after having that calling for almost a year and a half, today I got released from that calling (two days after my blog post). So mabye my mom isn't the only one who reads my blog ...

(FYI - Deidra and I have now been called to teach Gospel Doctrine in our ward.)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

100 Little-to-well-known facts about Chris

Following the lead of Nikkala and Deidra, here are a list of 100 things you may or may not find interesting about me:

1. I was born in Ontario, OR, and have lived in OR, ID, UT, VA, DC, IN, KY, and OH, though Idaho and Washington, DC make up the majority of where I have spent my life.

2. I recently got contacts, but still prefer wearing glasses most days (especially when I have to be to work at 6am)

3. I really like eating spaghetti ... with chopped up hot dogs. I obviously rarely get to indulge in this delicacy unless Deidra is out of town.

4. The most challenging church calling I have ever held is the one I am doing currently - Choir Pianist . . . which some may find odd, considering I was a Young Mens president over inner-city DC boys, most of which were being raised in single-parent homes without much support or encouragement.

5. I have written over 50 songs and am in the process of putting together my second CD, which hopefully will be available this summer.

6. I have only been out of the USA twice in my life - once to Spain and once to the Czech Republic. Both trips were with the GWU Troubadours - the acapella group I sang with in college.

7. I have been in a number of musicals. My favorite role was as Cinderella's Prince in Into the Woods, but the favorite musical I was in was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (I played Judah).

8. Most Embarrassing moment #1: I split my pants at recess one day in elementary school. The school secretary sewed them up, while I waited in the office supply closet in my underwear with the door closed.

9. I have been to a State of the Union speech in person (Pres. Bush - 2005, I think) and, even though I was impressed by seeing the President live and hearing him speak, the most memorable moment was meeting Boyd Tinsley.

10. I worked for over three years for Senator Larry Craig (R-ID), but I always referred to myself as the most apolitical person you would find on Capitol Hill.

11. I was a finalist in my first grade spelling bee, but lost when I spelled "soap" S-O-P-E.

12. My best friend form high school and I still refer to each other by random nicknames like "Big Dawg" and "Cheiftain."

13. I worked on a dairy milking cows growing up.

14. I have had traffic tickets for all of the following: speeding, inattentive driving, driving on a closed road, and left of center.

15. After seeing Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, I thought Jim Carrey was the funniest guy on the planet. (I still think he's pretty funny)

16. Growing up, my brothers and I liked watching WWF wrestling and then going out on the trampoline and pretending we were wrestlers.

17. I once had a Jennifer Aniston shrine on my dorm room wall in college.

18. I played a lot of baseball growing up and almost switched high schools because my school was too small to have a baseball team.

19. My first crush was on Christine Taylor, when she was on Nickelodeon's Hey, Dude.

20. I am turning 30, this year and I am trying to keep that from freaking me out.

21. My wife came with me to my 10 year class reunion two years ago - her 10 year reunion will be another six years from now.

22. My older brother (Ryan) and I are less than a year apart and were in the same grade throughout most of school.

23. I lost my youngest brother (Stephen) in a car accident when I was 14 and he was 10 . . . my other younger brother (Jeremy) was in a coma for a week and my mom still has a metal plate in her shoulder and slightly limited use of her arm also as a result of that accident.

24. I was also in the vehicle during this accident. While our van rolled twice and I was not wearing a seat belt, I was not thrown from the van and came out of the accident without any more than a scratch. Sometimes I wonder if I was spared for a reason or if I was just lucky.

25. That accident is the defining moment in my life. It happened fifteen years ago and still hardly a day goes by that I don't think back on that day or think about Stephen.

26. I now always wear my seat belt.

27. I went to the National Mall during the Million Man March, just so I could say I was there.

28. In addition to President Bush and Boyd Tinsley mention above, I have met the following celebrities (loosely termed): Ben Folds, Nelly Furtado, Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, Shawn Bradley, Bill Nye (the Science Guy), Glen Phillips (of Toad the Wet Sprocket), Nate Morris (from Boyz II Men), and Bruce Willis. (At least those are the names I can think of off the top of my head)

29. Embarrassing Moment #2: I once got a nose bleed while in the middle of making out.

30. I own probably close to 10,000 baseball cards and also have a coin collection (both boyhood hobbies).

31. My first attempt at a college major was Speech & Hearing Science, until I attended my first science-based class on the anatomy and physiology of speech and hearing. I dropped that class within two weeks and changed my major to Communication. I figured it was pretty much the same thing without all of the science.

32. Speaking of science, I fulfilled my science requirements in college by taking one semester of CHEM 001 - Chemistry for Non-Science Majors (aka Baby Chem) and two semesters of basic Geology - GEOL 003 & 004 (aka Rock for Jocks). My father, a Chemist who has degrees in Biochemisty and Physics (of something like that) was kind of upset when he found out I was copping out of my science classes.

33. Even though I was good at math and took Calculus in high school, I also copped out of my Math classes in college. I passed out of 2 math classes because of ACT scores and my for other two "math" classes, I took Statistics and Logic.

34. I'm still pretty good at math, and did better on the Math portion of the GRE than the Language portion.

35. I went through a Techno/Dance phase in high school, and still have CDs such as Technotronic, C & C Music Factory, Paula Abdul, and Ace of Bass in my CD collection.

36. My worst grade in college was a "D" in New Testament, followed by a "C-" in Creative Writing, which effectively squashed any writing aspirations that I then had.

37. Growing up, I went though a lot phases about what I wanted to be when I grew up - from Cookie Monster, to a Professional Baseball Player, to a Marine Biologist . . . and I'm still not sure what I want to be when I grow up.

38. I love Mic (pronounced "Mike") the Mac and experimenting with Garage Band.

39. It took 27 years and a countless myriad of relationships to find a girl willing to marry me, but it has been well worth the wait.

40. In contrast, Deidra only had one boyfriend in her life before we started dating and got married.

41. I served an LDS mission in the Kentucky Louisville Mission, which was split about halfway through my mission and I ended up in the Cincinnati Ohio Mission.

42. As a missionary, I spent the last seven month working solely with the Hispanic population - even though I had never previously learned Spanish.

43. I don't remember ever breaking a bone, but there are pictures of me in kindergarten with a cast on my arm, so chances are that I did break my arm and I have a cloudy memory of my early childhood.

44. I am a D.I. shopper. In fact, I recently purchased a left-handed pitching wedge at the local D.I. and look forward to using it this summer.

45. I like golfing, but I suck at it.

46. I have very rarely, if ever, lost a soda chugging contest.

47. I am not a morning person, but I have to be to work at 6am every morning.

48. I like writing, performing, and recording music.

49. I love being married, but sometimes I enjoy when my wife goes out of town and I get to rent guy movies and eat greasy food like when I was a bachelor.

50. I punched a girl in the face and gave her a bloody nose in 2nd grade (sorry Zatelle!)

51. I attended a lot of high school dances at both Declo and Burley high schools, and I never had the same date for any of them.

52. I played both football and tennis in high school (though i was much better at tennis than football)

53. I was once told by the person doing my make-up for Into the Woods that I wood make a good drag queen.

54. I sometimes water-down orange juice so it's not so strong.

55. I know that the Colonials are a cheesy sports moniker, and that I will be paying student loans for years to come because it was so expensive, but I am still glad that I went to the George Washington University and will continue to sing their fight song and root for their basketball team. Go Colonials!!

56. I dream of someday being able to make a living doing music, but know that the chances of actually fulfilling that dream are slim.

57. Embarrassing Moment #3: While skiing at Pomerelle one day when I was younger (like 10 or so), my dad decided we should try to ski a steep run. He coached us on making wide turns and taking it slow, but when we started down the hill I soon found myself pointed downhill and gaining speed too quickly to turn. I shot down the steepest portion of the run while my dad yelled at me from behind to sit down or turn to stop (though I didn't hear him). at the bottom of the steep portion there was a turn, which I definitely missed, and I ran smack into a tree stump. I fell onto the ground motionless and with the wind knocked out of me so that I couldn't breathe or speak. My dad flew down the hill and thought I was dead because I wasn't moving or answering his yells. Luckily, I survived and didn't even break anything. Once I got my breath back and had some time to regain my bearings, I was fine.

58. I am a sucker for recognition, even if it is meaningless. I am hooked on MSN Games because they give you badges for getting high scores on their games. I currently have over 600 badges.

59. I enjoy watching videos on and (the latter is basically just a compilation of Mormon videos from YouTube)

60. I dated a Catholic girl after returning home from my mission and soon found out that the mission rumor mill had gone amuck as I received letter from more than a couple of mission companions still on their missions wondering if it was true that I had gotten married to a Catholic.

61. I look forward to being a father, but enjoy being an uncle in the mean-time.

62. I think shaving is the most annoying thing in the world and I try to avoid it at all costs, which usually means I only shave a) before going to the temple, b) before church, and/or c) when Deidra requests it.

63. I have played over 1,600 holes in less than a year since downloading Tiger Woods Golf on my phone.

64. My favorite band is Collective Soul, but my favorite album is Beck's Guerro.

65. I should be working right now.

66. I own two three-piece suits - one a powder blue denim and the other a dark brown corduroy.

67. I have been to professional basketball, football, baseball, soccer, and hockey games, as well as the Salt Lake Olympics.

68. Sometimes I miss singing in an acapella group and performing in musicals, and other times I remember how much time they eat up in rehearsals and performances I am grateful that I am not.

69. This number will always remind me of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.

70. I own an electronic dart board that has been relegated to the closet in our apartment, but I'm definitely putting it up somewhere once we move into our own house.

71. I also own both an upright piano (willed to me by my grandmother) and an organ (a close-out, going-out-of-business purchase by my parents as a Christmas gift for me), both of which are still in my parents' house until Deidra and I settle down and aren't moving around so much.

72. My mom doesn't want me to take the piano because she has started taking piano lessons again.

73. If it wasn't for Brandt Pullins, the other Mormon kid that lived on my floor in my college dorm, I may never have made it through my first semester of college without succumbing to some peer pressure. He will always have my utmost respect, thanks, and admiration.

74. Reading The Kite Runner makes me feel physically ill at times, but I can't put it down.

75. I have kept a journal on-and-off since I was 14, though these days, my blog and my notes from church on Sunday are about as close to a journal as I get.

76. I like to think I was a catalyst in my family's musical boom. I did show choir, musicals, acapella, piano, voice lessons, University singers, etc, while none of my family did anything musical. Since then, both my dad and Jeremy have been in musicals, my mom is taking piano lessons and participated on the board of their local community theater, and my dad has sung with the local barber shop chorus.

77. I am proud to have a father who served during Vietnam and is now an active member (and president) of the local chapter of the American Legion.

78. I am proud to have a supportive mother who is an elementary school teacher that loves what she does.

79. I am proud to have an older brother who played college football and who now has a full-time job, wife, and two-year old daughter (I never thought he would actually stat growing up and being a responsible adult). :)

80. I am proud to have a younger brother who has overcome (and is still overcoming) a variety of challenges, trials, and limitations in his life, served an honorable mission, holding down a full-time job, and going on dates as often as possible (more now that he's finally taken Deidra's advice and gotten a haircut).

81. I am proud to have a wife who is graduating this semester, is an excellent cook, is working almost full-time while finishing her degree, and who - quite simply - makes me happy.

82. I miss DC a lot sometimes, and Deidra and I often talk about returning to live there.

83. Most of the time, I enjoy my job - but some days I loathe it with a fiery passion. (Today is an "enjoy" day, so far.)

84. I once started writing a children's story that I hope to actually make time to finish someday.

85. I once broke up with a girlfriend through email, and I still feel bad about it to this day.

86. I really like my in-laws.

87. I drove cross-country with my wife (fiancé, at that point) and my dad when I moved from DC to Utah . . . and I actually enjoyed it and would do it again.

88. Deidra and I like to highlight our atlas with a marker whenever we travel by car somewhere that we haven't been before.

89. I have a reoccurring dream that I am back in high school and can't remember the combination to my locker.

90. I am already looking forward to Fantasy Football for next year.

91. I had an overwhelming positive winning percentage and batting average when I pitched for the "Lucky Spuds" in the U.S. Senate Softball League.

92. I passively collect old version of LDS church books.

93. While I took a number of music classes in college, I refused to major or minor in music, mainly because I didn't want to have to take Music History classes.

94. If I ever made a sizable amount of money through a music career, I would want to donate to some of the programs/organizations that helped me to grow musically, i.e. The GW Troubadours, the Oakley Valley Arts Council, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and Declo High School.

95. I want to invest more in the stock market.

96. I like listening to my own music when i am alone, but I hate listening to it when others are hearing it for the first time.

97. I once had long hair down to my chin.

98. 11 1/2 years ago, I put together a 10-year time "capsule" (it's actually a foot locker) with a childhood friend. It remains unopened because we are never in Idaho at the same time.

99. When working in the Senate, I sometimes enjoyed going in to work on Saturday, just because the rest of my office wasn't there.

100. Making this list has elicited more memories and reminded more about who I am, where I've come from, and what I still have left to accomplish than anything has in a long time. It's been rather therapeutic, fun, difficult at times, and personally thought-provoking. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Fantasy Congress - Take 2

So, I guess they finally updated the Fantasy Congress page and I had to re-enter my league. For those of you who previously signed up, you will need to do so again. And anybody who didn't sign up, please feel free to join us! I'm not sure how it all works, but I'm sure it will be fun. I created a Rookie League, so it requires minimal upkeep and knowledge of Congress. Everyone is invited to join. Just like before, the information is as follows:


Click on the icon above to enter. Good luck!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Spoonfuls of Peanut Butter

What do you eat when you forget to pack a lunch for work and can't get away?

Spoonfuls of peanut butter, of course!

And where do you get spoonfuls of peanut butter?

From the jar of peanut butter in your desk, of course!

And why do you have a jar of peanut butter in your desk?

For when you forget to pack a lunch for work and can't get away, of course!

Mmmmm . . . Breakfast in Bed

On Monday, I was fortunate enough to have the day off from work (thank you MLK). I didn't sleep particularly well Sunday night, and I awoke Monday morning to the sounds and smells of Deidra making breakfast in the kitchen. Not wanting to miss a homemdae breakfast, I went downstairs and into the kitchen only to be sternly told "Get back in bed!" So I did as I was told, without complaint.

A few moments later, Deidra came upstairs with a full plate of waffles and eggs, along with a tall glass of juice. What a wonderful morning! I appreciate her kindness and and her great cooking skills. :) I should have days off more often!

We then traveled to SLC and spent some time shopping before I dropped her off at her hotel in the afternoon (where she is staying until this afternoon for her work). It was good to spend the morning and early afternoon with her before I had to come back to Logan and prepare to go back to work. I will be nice to have her home today.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Why I hate USU right now

As some of you know, I have been taking some classes at USU in hop es of starting a graduate program in the fall. Well, this semester has been almost more hassle than it's worth. I was originally given six classes that I needed to take as prerequisites for the graduate program. I took two of those last semester (ECON 1500 & ACCT 2010). This semester, I registered for ECON 2010, and then attempted to register for one of the other three prerequisite classes (BA 3400, 3500, & 3700). I was unable to register for any of those three classes because I was told I did not meet the prerequisites for those classes. I appealed to the Business department, who told me that they could not help me because I was registered as a graduate student and that I needed to talk to the graduate advising. I did that and was told that I had not yet been accepted into a graduate program and that I needed to talk with the Business department. (and, as a side note that will come in to play later, I found out that the head of the program that I had worked with last year had since left the University for another position and there was a new department head.) I then went to the Admissions office to see if I could get my enrollment changed from "Graduate - Non-Matriculated" to "Undergraduate" and enroll in a degree program for a second bachelor's (one of the requirements for the BA classes is to be admitted into a degree program). I was told that I would have to go through the entire application process again and that it was too late to do that for the current semester. I was told to talk to the professor of one of those BA courses and that he could sign me in to the class and orverride any holds to do so. So I emailed the professor and explained my situation, to which I received the following reply:


I am not sure who you are talking with, but the best place to get help is the graduate office on the 8th floor of the Business building. I am unable to make any exceptions with regard to classes. I’m sure they can answer any of your questions. I will let them know that you will be contacting them.

So there I was, back at square one. I appealed one last time to the Business department advising office and was finally granted permission to fax them my transcripts from my undergraduate days at GWU. Once I did that, I was once again shut down and told that I could not get into the BA classes with being admitted into a degree program and taking MATH 1100 and STAT 2300. So I decided I would just sign up for one of those classes this semester so that I would at least be taking two classes and would thus be considered a half-time student. That way I could at least keep my previous student loans on deferrment for this semester. Well, I attempted to sign in to one class and then the other class without success. I was still given the message that I was missing prerequisties for those math classes. (For those of you keeping track, that would mean that I was expected to take prerequisites for the prerequisites to the prerequisites to get into the graduate program.) By this time, I was getting quite frustrated. I sent an email to the Math department explaining my situation and attaching the previous email correspondence I had exchanged with other USU departments. I got an email back simply stating that I had been cleared to take those two Math classes. Finally, a department that was understanding and easy to work with.

So, I finally am signed up for two online classes this semester, ECON 2010 and STAT 2300. And STAT 2300 is a four credit course, so we'll see how busy that keeps me during the semester. I am not really looking forward to it all that much.

And just in case you thought that was the end of the story . . . there's more. Feel free to take a break and grab something to eat or use the restroom if you need to. I know this is a long post.

Ready now? OK.

After going through this ordeal, I figured it might be in my best interest to contact the Masters of Human Resources program and find out if I would be able to take the BA courses in the summer. In addition, I knew that the head of the department had left. Last year, I had communicated back and forth with her quite a bit and was told that I would be able to do the master's program while still working, and that she would work with me specifically to help me be able to do so. So I emailed the department and asked them about the BA classes and also about completing the program while still working. I was told that I could indeed take the BA classes in the summer without having to worry about their prerequisites. (So why such a hassle about prerequisites this semester? I have no idea.) But in response to my other question, I was told that "it would be very difficult, if not impossible" to complete the program while still working. So it makes me wonder if all of the prerequisite class crap is going to be for naught. If I didn't get reimbursed for classes through work and get my student loans deferred for being a half-time student, I would probably not take any classes. But I figure no matter what happens, these classes could only help me when it comes to getting into a graduate program ... whether or not it is at USU. You know, GWU has a great Masters of Human Resources program designed especially for working professionals and there just happens to be a Branch Manager position open in DC with Kelly Services. Believe me, it's tempting ...